Thando's Strength

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19

Thabo walked Thando all the way home and that was the end of that. Well, it was meant to be until Dlamini’s youngest sibling started asking questions.

“So… you and Thabo, hey?”

“You and my backhand, hey” Thando grunted.

“What? Here you guys are taking long walks on the tarred beach, he’s carrying your bag, etc, etc.”

“So what, a person becomes a decent human being for just a second. A gentleman and carries my bag after I’ve had a long ass day standing on my feet all day while you’ve been toiling away stroking that thing you call a dick and all of a sudden, there’s something between us?”

“Calm down. I didn’t mean to-”

“To what, hmm Vusi? Assume, cause as far as being a man is concerned he sure knows a lot about it than you even though he doesn’t have the material things to show it. So what if I hang out with him a lot at night and people think I’m a hoe, I know you do too.”

“What, pssh, no” he shrugged his shoulders.

“First Mandla, then Sbu and now Thabo, I go through men like you do jobs.”

“But I don’t-”

“If you wanted to know why I’m hanging out with Thabo so much all of a sudden all you had to do was ask. It’s not that hard. I did the exact same thing when I wanted to know about you and Mandla and you couldn’t answer me but at least I showed you how it’s done.” She said, clicking her tongue. “Look, I come home late whether you notice it or not. And it’s dark and I feel unsafe. Thabo just makes me feel safe by walking me home and he’s just a nice person to be around with once you give him a chance so, please… take your head out your ass for once and act like my brother for once in your life and be on my side.”

“Okay,” Vusi said softly.

***

Thabo had convinced Thando to face the demon they’d been practising to slay throughout their walks home. She was ready and no one, not even Zama was going to stop her. What she didn’t anticipate was to find her waiting for her, teary-eyed as she collapsed into her arms without an explanation. It took out all the gusto and bad girl ready to slay energy out of her. All Thando could do was watch, listen to be exact as a slobbering Zama uttered words that didn’t make words until she caught them after multiple repetitions.

Mandla’s been arrested.

Thando wasn’t sure whether she should push Zama off her and run down to the police station to confirm it or stand there and cry with her. What she did know though and could confirm alongside the female beside her was that the news hit like a ton of bricks and it hurt.

But why?

Even though Zama had explained it to her in her grief-stricken state it still didn’t make sense. How could it, but this was no time for hypothetical questions. The two women jumped into Zama’s car and headed to the nearest police station where they were out of luck. This wasn’t a Hollywood movie where you could spill in and all would be revealed to you. Mandla wouldn’t answer his phone despite the multiple calls from either of them and then, voicemail. They tried a few more local police stations with no luck and drove back to his apartment, their hearts heavier than they already were, if such a thing were even possible.

“I’m sorry” Thando smiled soothingly.

“Thank you. The important thing is that we tried. Besides, without you, I think all I would’ve done is sit here and ball my eyes out.”

“Meh, what can you do?” Thando shrugged before giving her a hug and being on her merry way.

On her way home multiple scenarios kept replaying in her mind but the ones that stuck out the most were the ones they kept discussing with Thabo. Who knew? Either way, she’d keep the news to herself. The last thing she wanted was her brother acting like an estranged ex-lover being kept in the dark when to her knowledge, he was a heterosexual male with attachment issues and boy had he become clingy ever since their mom died.

***

All the pressure for the truth was causing Mandla to do stupid mistakes and taking a strain on his relationship. It was unfair and unjust and he didn’t deserve to be treated this way at all, regardless of whether he witness the murder or not. He wasn’t feeling particularly proud of what he was about to do, a matter of fact he thought of changing direction multiple times but the need to do the right thing triumphed over fear. And that’s how he found himself parked in front of this orange-brown building with flimsy fencing around it. It was hard to believe that this is where the country’s hopes and dreams lay when it came to protection but I guess there was no better physical manifestation of judging a book by its cover than the physical appearance of a police station in South Africa. The headquarters of getting certified copies of identity documents.

“I’m here to report a murder.”

The police officers on duty ignored him and went on about their work until he repeated himself demanding their attention. And with all eyes on him, he did the one thing he had worked so hard to avoid ever since MaDlamini’s eyes fluttered closed. He requested for the detective in charge of her case and confessed to his wrongdoings like a sinner at confession.

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